You want to rank higher on Google, and we all know how important backlinks are to your SEO rank.
We also know how hard it is to get them.
Some take the easy way out by paying for backlinks. But you shouldn’t be one of those people.
Paying for backlinks violates Google’s policy and is an easy way to get your site banned.
So how can you get backlinks without paying for them?
Stick around because, in this post, we’re going to walk you through 3 steps on how to build your backlinks for free.
And if you stay until the end, we’re sharing 2 bonus tips you can use!
- Backlinks are links from one website to a page on another website which makes search engines think to be a “vote of confidence” for a specific page.
- A single high-quality backlink can do more for your SEO than 1,000 low-quality backlinks.
- Only “dofollow” links affect your SEO rank.
Before we jump right into the 3 steps on how to build backlinks without playing for them…
…let’s take a step back and talk about what backlinks are and why they’re important.
Backlinks are links from one website to a page on another website.
Google and other search engines consider backlinks to be a “vote of confidence” for a specific page.
This is why pages that have a high number of backlinks also tend to rank higher.
However, not all backlinks are created equal and certain backlinks can actually hurt your SEO rank.
So how do you distinguish the difference between high-quality backlinks and backlinks that will hurt your SEO rank?
Well, there are a few factors that can help you make this determination.
Domain authority describes a website’s relevance for a specific topic or industry.
When getting backlinks, high-quality backlinks are those that come from a website that has a higher domain authority than your own.
Backlinks that come from a website with a lower domain authority than your website can sometimes hurt your SEO.
That’s why a single high-quality backlink can do more for your SEO than 1,000 low-quality backlinks.
You can check the domain authority of your website or one that links to you by using the free domain analysis SEO tool from Moz.
You’ll notice that this platform will also provide a lot of information about your competitor’s top pages and keywords.
One of the most useful features of this tool is the top questions section.
This can provide you with even more content ideas based on the most popular questions your audience wants answers to.
And speaking of competitors, you can check out this post next if you want to know more about doing a competitor analysis.
Comes from a website and page that is topically related to your site
For example, if your website specializes in new technology, video games, and other electronics, a backlink from ESPN might not be great for you.
Even though ESPN most likely has a higher domain authority than your website, your website isn’t topically related to ESPN since they specialize in sports.
Now, if you were to get a backlink from Best Buy, that would definitely be considered a high-quality backlink.
That is due to them having a higher domain authority and being topically related to your site.
It’s also important to note that backlinks from a website lose their SEO relevance after that site has already linked to you once.
This means that the first time a site links to you will have the most drastic effect on your SEO rank than any other time that same site links to your site after that.
So now that we know what backlinks are and the difference between backlinks that are high-quality and backlinks you’ll want to avoid…
…let’s now discuss why they are important.
As previously mentioned, backlinks act as a vote of confidence for a web page.
A backlink tells search engines that the page they are linking to provides valuable content…
…that can be useful for those performing searches.
This is why they play such a big role in determining your SEO rank.
However, much like not all backlinks being created equal, not all backlinks have any effect on your search engine position ranking.
This is determined by whether or not the link is a “dofollow” link or a “nofollow” link.
What does this mean?
In short, a “nofollow” link is a link that does not count when it comes to search engine algorithms that rank your site.
A “dofollow” link, on the other hand, does affect your SEO rank.
You might remember earlier in the post when we said that paying for backlinks violates Google’s policy and can get your site banned.
This however only applies to dofollow links that you paid for.
As you can see here, Google has a specified way to tag backlinks that are part of paid advertising and sponsorship deals.
With that said, you shouldn’t even consider paying for nofollow backlinks because not only will they not help your SEO rank…
…but also because the 3 steps that we’re about to share with you on how to build backlinks for free will provide your business with long-term success.
As well as a list of valuable backlinks that are sure to boost your SEO rank.
So now that you understand what backlinks are, the different types of backlinks, and why they’re important…
…let’s jump into the first step for building backlinks without paying for them.
The first step is to conduct research on your competitors to see what are their top pages with the most backlinks.
A free tool you can use to do this is SEMRush.
To do this, here’s what you need to do.
- Create a free account.
- Head over to the SEO tab and then select Backlink Analytics.
- Once there, enter one of your competitor’s domains and search.
- Now you’ll have access to a list of your competitor’s top pages as well as their backlinks.
- From here, make a list of their top articles that also relate to you and your business.
We want you to repeat this process for all of your competitors.
We know that this may sound tedious and repetitive, but the more work you do for this step now, the less you’ll have to do in a week or even a month’s time.
Step 2: Write better versions of your competitor’s articles
Once you have that list, it’s time to move on to step 2 which is writing better, more detailed versions of your competitor’s articles.
If their article is 2,000 words, double it, and if you can, maybe even triple it.
In order to do this effectively, you can’t just plug in filler and throw around a bunch of keywords.
You need to make sure that your article provides more value than all of your competitor’s articles put together.
How can you do this?
Get as detailed as possible.
Let’s say you’re writing an article on how to smoke baby back ribs.
You’d probably write out the basic steps like:
- Get your coals hot and bring your smoker up to the right temperature.
- Season your ribs.
- Put them on the smoker.
- Take them off and wrap them in foil.
- Put them back on.
- Take them off again when they are at the desired temperature and serve.
Now let’s take that same example and write high-quality, extremely detailed, and highly valuable content.
You’ll want to break down every little detail so it’s something more like:
- How do you pick your coals?
- Do you use lump charcoal or briquettes?
- Do you use the minion method or the snake method to get them hot?
- Why should you remove the membrane from the ribs?
- When do you season your ribs?
- Why should you use mustard as a binding agent for your rib?
You can also add information on everything from:
- How often do you spray your ribs to keep the meat from drying out once they’re on the smoker?
- What do you use to spray them?
- Why do you wrap ribs?
- How do you even know when they’re ready to be wrapped?
- How long do you put your ribs back in the smoker after you sauce them?
- How do you cut them afterward?
You get the point.
We just went super in-depth on how to smoke baby back ribs and if we were you, we would go even more in-depth than that.
Because your article is so thorough, when somebody reads it, they won’t feel the need to look anywhere else to find out how to smoke baby back ribs.
That is because your article provides the most detailed instructions out there.
Also, we recommend including as many graphics and visuals as possible.
That’s because your article is going to be so long that you’ll want something to help break up the text for your viewers.
You can use GIFs of you applying the rub to the ribs, wrapping them in foil, saucing them, and cutting them.
You could also include videos, whether it’s longer videos showing the full process or just quick snippets to highlight what you’re talking about.
Add images or custom infographics too, if it’s applicable.
Doing all of these things makes your article super detailed and easy for the reader to consume the content.
This is how you’ll produce better content than your competitors because your article is the one-stop-shop to any questions the consumer may have.
Take your time in executing this step thoroughly because it’s the key step to making this process work!
The final step on how to build backlinks is to reach out to everyone that has linked to your competitor’s articles.
When you reach out to them via email, you need to explain to them why your article is better.
To take this one step further, send out custom emails.
What does this look like?
In your email, let them know where you’ve built off of your competitor’s article that they’ve already linked to.
This is where you’ll want to get extremely detailed to highlight the differences between your article…
…and your competitor’s article that they’ve already linked to.
To demonstrate this, let’s go back to our baby back ribs example.
In your email, you can say, we know you linked to this article.
But ours goes over the different choices consumers have for charcoal and the different cooking methods they can use.
We also go on to talk about why it is important to remove the membrane from the ribs so that more flavor can be infused from the back of the ribs.
The people that link to these articles share a common goal with you which is to provide more value to their audience.
You have already taken the steps to produce the highest quality article that is much more detailed.
And thus, provides more value than your competitor’s article.
Pointing out the features that prove that point will further convince the people you are emailing to link out to your content as well.
When you create that detailed of an email, you can let them know that…
…if they want to provide more value to their audience that they should check out your article, which you should be sure to provide them a link to.
And, let them know that you would really appreciate it if they linked to it.
This method is time-consuming and takes a lot of work, so it is a long-term approach.
But if you put in the work, over time, you’ll see results.
The more often you practice the method, the more of your competition’s traffic you’ll be able to direct to your business.
The more backlinks you’ll receive, and you’ll see greater success for your business.
You might be asking though, are there any other effective ways to build backlinks without paying for them?
Absolutely! And because you’ve made it this far in the post, we’re going to share a few with you.
Tip #1: Practice broken link building
So we’ve covered one way to find link opportunities based off of your competition’s content.
But, this is another way to leverage some of what we’ve already taught you earlier in this post to build backlinks.
Another way is via broken link building.
A broken link is a link on a web page that no longer works which could be related to a whole handful of issues.
The first step to this strategy is to find broken links.
You might already know how to do this from periodically checking in on your own website.
But if you don’t know how to do this, it’s quite simple.
Just search on Google for a broken link checker or dead link checker and there are plenty of free options to choose from.
Start entering your competitor’s URLs to see what they’ve linked to and if there are any broken links on their site.
Once you’ve found a relevant, broken link, copy and paste it somewhere because you’ll need it again soon.
Then, create content that is similar to the content that was linked to, much like you did earlier in this post.
Now you might be thinking, that’s an awful lot of work for just one backlink.
Your strategy earlier in the post at least allowed us to reach out to many people in hopes of gaining multiple backlinks from our work.
But stick with us.
We want you to head over to SEMRush and under the SEO tab, find and click on Backlink Analytics.
Then, copy and paste the URL of the broken link and check it.
The report that SEMRush generates will allow you to see who has linked to this link that we know is broken.
Odds are, the people that have linked to this content might not know it is broken.
This is a huge opportunity for you because you can offer a quick, and much higher-quality replacement for that link.
And these sites will be much more willing to link to you to replace a broken link on their website…
…than sites that have only linked to similar content like in the first tip we gave earlier.
Tip #2: Target unlinked mentions
The last one of our link building tips that we have for you is to target unlinked mentions.
Unlinked mentions are when people mention your brand or business without linking to you, which does happen sometimes.
In fact, this happens a lot more than you might think and that’s probably because you aren’t finding those unlinked mentions online.
This is hurting your link building because these are great opportunities to reach out and convince them to link to you.
When you think about it, the author is already familiar with your business because they mentioned you in their article.
All you have to do is convince them to link to you.
So how do you find people that mention your business but haven’t linked to them?
We want you to head back over to SEMRush.
Once there, go to the Competitive Research tab and scroll down and click on Brand Monitoring.
From there, simply enter your brand name, the URL to your website, and search.
SEMRush will ask you if there are any other words that might relate to your brand that you would like them to search the internet for.
Once you search, you’ll be brought to your mentions page where you will be shown all of the sites that have mentioned your brand name that you entered.
As you can see, there are additional search filters to make this search even more specific.
This is useful if your business name can be used for many different things such as our example company, Yeti.
You can also see that you get a small but detailed report for each link that provides you with the domain of the site that mentioned you.
That site’s authority score will help you determine if they have a higher domain authority than your own site…
…thus making them a high-quality backlink, as well as a rating from low to high for traffic on that site.
Using all of this, you can compile a list of sites that have mentioned your business without having linked to you.
And you can then reach out to them and ask them to link to your content.
You’re already halfway to earning a backlink to your page with these sites since they’ve already mentioned you.
So, you may see more success with this strategy than with others.
That’s all for how to build backlinks without paying for them.
Now if you need help with your SEO campaigns, head over to our SEO services page or get in touch with us today!